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Amy White

Partner - Uckfield

12th December 2016

Are you feeling festive…? – a note on the pitfalls of the infamous Christmas Party

christmas-party-lighting-harbor-beach-marriott-5It’s that time of year again when the Christmas jumper makes a ‘welcome’ return and keeping up your healthy diet becomes nigh on impossible.

Yes – It’s Christmas Party season!

However, while employees look forward to a slap up meal and a bit of plonk paid for by their employers, those same employers start worrying about the possibility of the festivities getting a little out of hand.

It’s true that Christmas parties present employers with a range of potential issues. Whilst being a Scrooge and deciding not to hold a party of any kind can help avoid issues connected with drunkenness and inappropriate behaviour, it’s hardly going to generate much goodwill from your staff and could really dampen morale going into 2017.

Equally though, Christmas parties are something of a minefield for employees. Told to ‘let your hair down’ and ‘have a great time’ the temptation is there for some to go a little overboard. Many employees have faced disciplinary action, right up to dismissal, as a result of prosecco-fuelled misconduct.

Employers need to keep in mind that, ultimately, they’re the boss and the responsibility for the event is theirs. Reminding your employees about the Company’s policy and what might be perceived as gross misconduct in advance of the big night might seem a little miserable, but it’s certainly better than waking up the morning after to a brewing Tribunal claim.

Employees also need to remember that they have duties to their employer and that these are not put on hold simply because a work-related event feels that bit more social. Conduct in and outside of work, as well as online, can form the basis of a misconduct allegation, so be careful when you’re updating your Facebook status on the taxi-ride home.

Here at Rix & Kay our Christmas party has sadly come and gone. We’re glad to be able to report that the bash went off without a hitch and that no-one ended up in the dog house the following day.

The firm’s Managing Partner, Bruce Hayter, had this advice for employers and employees who are still lucky enough to be looking forward to their annual event:

“I’d suggest you always appoint one of the Senior Management Team to be the ‘responsible adult’ for the event. Their role is to blend into the background and enjoy the event but, if necessary, be available to assist with any general issues that may arise. A diplomatic approach is best to head off any problems with unreasonable behaviour while ensuring that everyone enjoys a wonderful and truly memorable event, for all the right reasons!”

Of course the issues considered here are just some of those that can crop up during or following a Christmas party where everyone’s demob-happy and the vino keeps flowing.

If you would like further information or advice on employment status and the engagement of consultants, please contact our Employment team – Amy White on 01825 744489, email: or Miranda Martin on 01273 225603, email:

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